Medical NGO: Israel must allow wounded protesters to leave Gaza for treatment
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Medical NGO: Israel must allow wounded protesters to leave Gaza for treatment

Local head of Physicians for Human Rights says 'even in times of war and conflict, and certainly when dealing with unarmed demonstrators, we must retain our humanity'

A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza Strip on the eastern outskirts of Jabaliya on May 11, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
A wounded Palestinian is evacuated during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza Strip on the eastern outskirts of Jabaliya on May 11, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

A doctors’ rights group has called on Israeli leaders to reverse the policy of preventing Gazans injured during border protests from leaving the territory for treatment.

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) said it had appealed to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot to allow wounded individuals whose limbs were at risk to travel to Israel and the West Bank for treatment, Haaretz reported Saturday.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says 24 Palestinians have had limbs amputated due to the inadequacy of the Strip’s medical facilities, and Israel’s refusal or delay in approving transfer to hospitals outside Gaza.

The group said the notion that “participation in a demonstration should serve as a consideration in preventing access to medical treatment is morally and ethically wrong.”

Professor Raphael Walden at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv on September 15, 2016 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

PHRI President Dr. Rapahel Walden, who is deputy director of the Sheba Medical Center and the son-in-law and former personal physician of late president Shimon Peres, said: “Even in times of war and conflict, and certainly when dealing with unarmed demonstrators, we must retain our humanity.

“Medical ethics and the policies of Israel’s rescue and health organizations obligate us to provide treatment to the wounded, regardless of their actions before they were injured.”

In April the High Court ruled in one case that a Palestinian who was wounded in border clashes and had his right leg amputated must be permitted to travel to the West Bank for treatment to save his other leg. The state had argued that while the man fulfilled the medical criteria required to get approval, he was denied entry, because his injuries “stemmed directly from [his] participation in the riots.”

PHRI said many other cases were still being refused on similar grounds.

Palestinians in Gaza have engaged in violent clashes with Israeli troops at the border every Friday since March 30, in protests that have seen around 50 fatalities — according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

A Palestinian demonstrator hurls stones during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip, east of Gaza City, on May 11, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Around 15,000 Palestinians took part in the most recent rally Friday. The Israeli army said violent protesters clashed with soldiers at five major points along the border. Troops were attacked with pipe bombs, grenades, rocks and burning tires. Rioters also attempted to sabotage “security infrastructure,” the army said.

Several flaming kites were flown over the fence by demonstrators, sparking blazes in Israeli territory. Israeli officials said the fires were under control.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said a 40-year-old man was killed after being shot in the chest east of Khan Younis, in the south of the Strip. The ministry said 146 people were injured by live fire — at least eight seriously, and another several dozen moderately and several dozen lightly.

Rioters also set fire to gas pipes serving the territory as well as a conveyor belt used to transfer goods into the Strip, the Israeli military said. The IDF said dozens of protesters sabotaged infrastructure on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing.

Israel says it opens fire when necessary to stop damage to the border fence, infiltrations, and attempted attacks. It alleges that Hamas, whose leaders have said the demonstrations are ultimately aimed at erasing the border and liberating Palestine, is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.

Hamas’s leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar said Thursday he hopes to see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians breach the border fence from Gaza into Israel at next week’s protests to coincide with the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem.

The Israeli military has faced international and domestic criticism over its use of live fire, with the United Nations and European Union calling for an independent investigation rejected by Israel.

Israel has repeatedly expressed concern over the possibility of a mass breach of the Gaza fence, in which Palestinians would stream across with terrorists among them, wreaking havoc. Sinwar has vowed in the past that protesters would “breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the major Muslim shrine in Jerusalem.

 

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